Iberian Historic Endurance – Nicha Cabral Memorial

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This year in August the Portuguese nation lost a great character and proponent of the sport, Portugal’s first Formula One driver Mário de Araújo ‘Nicha’ Cabral.  As drivers prepared for the last race of the weekend at the Estoricl Classic event, a minute’s silence was observed to honour his memory and the sold-out race was named after the charismatic driver.   It was also a moment to remember Laura Salvo, the 21 year-old Spanish navigator who unfortunately died the previous weekend in the Rallye Vidreiro, a round of the Portuguese Rally Championship.

After two qualifying sessions, a wide variety of cars was on display as the 44 teams, of seven different nationalities lined up for Sunday’s 50-minute race with Olivier Tancogne’s GT40 on pole and Carlos Barbot’s (shared with Pedro Matos) little Merlyn Mk4 alongside.  At about the same pace, Michiel Campagne’s heavy-duty Corvette Grand Sport lurked on row two, ready to pounce.   As the lights changed, Tancogne maintained his position, but was under fierce pressure from Barbot and Campagne, the latter soon breaking through to take the lead.  Meanwhile Andy Newall was on the move from a sixth place start in Rhea Sautter’s Jaguar E-type, which was soon embroiled in a dice for third with Barbot.

Right behind them, the Danish Lars Rolner and Pedro Bastos Resende were having a Porsche 911 3.0 RS duel, which ended when the latter car went into the pits with mechanical troubles.  After a few laps., the GT40 was back in command, but a touch between Barbot and Newall caused the Merlyn to leave the track, without serious consequence.  It did bring out the yellow flags though, and most chose that moment to make their mandatory pit stop and optional driver change.

Running without missing a beat, the Frenchman’s GT40 emerged from the pits and stormed to the finish over a minute ahead of Allard Kalff, now in the Campagne Corvette, with the Barbot/Matos Merlyn holding on to third ahead of Rolner’s Porsche, winner of the ‘76 class, and the AC Cobra of Olivier’s father, Xavier Tancogne, who took the ‘65 class.  German, adopted by the Portuguese, Christian Oldendorff overtook Domingos Sousa Coutinho’s spectacular BMW 2800 CS in the last metres of the race to win the ‘71 category and the Index of Performance in his Alfa Romeo GTAm.

In the Gentleman Driver Spirit category, after the Ford Anglia of Spaniard António Castro dominated at the start, victory ended up smiling on the Datsun 1200 driven by the Iberian duo Francisco Freitas/Guillermo Velasco.

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